Relatives: Woman police say was killed by son may have been dead for days

Christmas without Imogene Yongue
Published: Dec. 23, 2014 at 2:32 AM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2015 at 9:42 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Imogene Yongue (Source: Second Ward Alumni Association)
Imogene Yongue (Source: Second Ward Alumni Association)
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department)
(Source: Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Relatives say for a week they tried to contact Imogene Yongue but her son always had a reason why she wasn't available. Monday afternoon, after her grandson called police to do a welfare check, officers found Jean Yongue dead.

"The body is so decomposed that they won't be able to show the body," her cousin, Juanita Yongue-Eison said. "And they say she was shot in the head."

Now, relatives are thinking about the days when they tried to talk to Jean Yongue.

Her cousin, Juanita, said she called the house last Tuesday but Jean Yongue's son answered the phone and said his mother was sleeping. He reportedly told other relatives she was away. At the end of the week, Jean Yongue's grandson went to the house to check on his grandmother.

"When he got in, he spoke with his dad and said where is Mama Jean? And he said I don't know. He said his daddy looked real strange so he left," Juanita said.

The family would later request police do a welfare check. No one expected what officers discovered. Questions are mounting in their heads about how and when she actually died.

"Where was she? How did she survive. Oh my God... I just..." Juanita said, as her voice trailed off.

Imogene Yongue blazed such a trail in life that Duke University called upon her and her late husband to tell their stories of living in the Jim Crow South. The 88-year-old mother and educator who lived a life of distinction, died, police say, at the hands of her son.

The motive, police sources say, was one of the oldest in the books – money.

Monday afternoon, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police arrested and charged William Henry Yongue with the murder of his mother, who was also known as Jean.

Police sources say William Yongue, a practicing attorney in Virginia, stole money from his mother. According to sources, he allegedly shot and killed her to cover up the thefts.

"I never saw that side of my cousin, Billy. I've never thought anything about him. I just - he's very quiet," Juanita Yongue-Eison said.

Officers were called to do a welfare check on a person at home in the 6100 block of Vernedale Road, off of N. Sharon Amity Road. When police arrived, they say they found Imogene Yongue inside the home. Medics pronounced her dead at the scene.

Yongue saw a lot in her life.

A Spelman graduate, Imogene Yongue would go on to to become an educator. She and her late husband were some of the first African American graduates of Virginia Tech to earn doctorates.

Duke University would call on the Yongues to become part of a documentary that told the story of life in the Jim Crow South. Dr Yongue offered reflections of growing up during the segregated era.

Friends told WBTV that Jean Yongue will be remembered for sharing her knowledge and wisdom.

"Understanding her responsibilities as a member of the community," long-time friend Natalie Beard said. "Understanding the importance of interacting with others, and always making sure that she is responsible for making sure that someone understands the importance of interacting of others."

For members of Charlotte's First United Presbyterian Church where Yongue worshipped, her death - especially the way she died - stings.

"You mourn as a sense of loss, but you mourn in a sense of faith," a friend said.

The accused killer, her son, is sitting in the Mecklenburg County jail and is scheduled to go before a judge on Friday.

"She didn't deserve that," Juanita Yongue-Eison said of her cousin's murder. For relatives, the holiday week has been especially difficult. Juanita Yongue-Eison said Jean Yongue always had a Christmas celebration, and most likely would have had one again this year.

Christmas paused Monday afternoon for the Yongue family when Jean Yongue's body was found. By Christmas, they were still struggling to grasp what happened to their beloved Jean.

"Her god daughter called me and said let's get together and try to make this a happy Christmas and rejoice her but I don't.. I'm not going over there. I don't think."

Juanita said she and Jean had become like one - always in and out of each other's homes. "We were so close, it's unreal."

Now, reality has left her only memories.

"Think about the good times," Juanita said. "Every time I would go to the beach - Jean and I would be right together."

Copyright 2014 WBTV. All rights reserved.